Bangladesh, officially the People's Republic of Bangladesh, is a country in South Asia. Straddling the fertile Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta, it is part of the historic ethno-linguistic region of Bengal. The name Bangladesh stands for "Country of Bengal" in the official Bengali language. It faces the Bay of Bengal to its south, and is bordered by India on the north, (SONY PCG-5G2L battery) west and east, as well as Burma (Myanmar) on the southeast. It is separated from the Himalayan nations of Nepal and Bhutan by India’s narrow Siliguri corridor, and is in close geographical proximity to China.
The present-day borders of Bangladesh were established during the British partition of Bengal in 1947, when the region became East Pakistan, part of the newly formed nation of Pakistan(SONY PCG-5G3L battery). However, it was separated from West Pakistan by nearly 1,500 km (about 900 mi) of Indian territory. Due to political exclusion, ethnic and linguistic discrimination and economic neglect by the politically dominant western wing, popular agitation grew and gave rise to a secular cultural nationalist movement, leading to the declaration of independence and Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971(SONY PCG-F305 battery). In the aftermath of war and independence, the new state endured poverty, famine, political turmoil and military coups. The restoration of democracy in 1991 has been followed by relative calm and economic progress.
Bangladesh is a unitary secular parliamentary republic, with an elected parliament called the Jatiyo Sangshad. It is the world's eighth most populous country and has one of the highest population densities in the world(SONY PCG-5J1L battery). The Bengali people form the vast majority of the population, however Bangladesh is also home to various indigenous peoples in its northern and southeastern districts. The country is identified as a Next Eleven economy. It is a founding member of regional groupings SAARC and BIMSTEC, and is a member of the Commonwealth, the Non-Aligned Movement, the OIC and the Developing 8 Countries(SONY PCG-5J2L battery).
Geographically, the country straddles the Ganges-Brahmaputra Delta and is subjected to annual floods and cyclones. The country faces a number of major challenges, including poverty, corruption, overpopulation and vulnerability to climate change. However, Bangladesh has been noted for its progress on the Human Development Index. The country has increased life expectancy by 23 years, achieved gender parity in education(SONY PCG-5K2L battery), reduced population growth and improved maternal and child health. Dhaka and Chittagong, the country's two largest cities, have been the driving force behind much of the recent growth.
Remnants of civilization in the greater Bengal region date back four thousand years, when the region was settled by Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman, and Austro-Asiatic peoples(SONY PCG-5L1L battery). The exact origin of the word "Bangla" or "Bengal" is not known, though it is believed to be derived from Bang/Vanga, the tribe that settled in the area around the year 1000 BCE.
The kingdom of Gangaridai was formed from at least the 7th century BCE, which later united with Bihar under the Shishunaga, Nanda, Mauryan, Sunga, Meghavahana and Kanva Empires. Bengal was later part of the Gupta Empire and Harsha Empire from the 3rd to the 6th centuries CE. Following its collapse(SONY PCG-6S2L battery), a dynamic Bengali named Shashanka founded an impressive short-lived kingdom. After a period of anarchy, the Bengali Buddhist Pala dynasty ruled the region for four hundred years, followed by a shorter reign of the Hindu Sena dynasty.
Medieval European geographers located paradise at the mouth of the Ganges and although this was overhopeful, Bengal was probably the wealthiest part of the subcontinent until the 16th century. The area's early history featured a succession of Hindu empires, internal squabbling, and a tussle between Hinduism and Buddhism for dominance(SONY PCG-6S3L battery).
Islam was introduced to the Bengal region in the 10th century by Arab Muslim merchants; Sufi missionaries, and subsequent Muslim rule helped spread Islam throughout the region. Bakhtiar Khilji, a Turkish general, defeated Lakshman Sen of the Sena dynasty and conquered large parts of Bengal in the year 1204. The region was ruled by several sultans, Hindu states and land-lords-Baro-Bhuiyans for the next few hundred years(SONY PCG-6V1L battery). By the 16th century, the Mughal Empire controlled Bengal, and Dhaka became an important provincial centre of Mughal administration. From 1517 onwards, Portuguese traders from Goa were traversing the sea-route to Bengal. Only in 1537, were they allowed to settle and open customs houses at Chittagong. In 1577, Mughal emperor Akbar permitted the Portuguese to build permanent settlements and churches in Bengal. (SONY PCG-6W1L battery) The influence of European traders grew until the British East India Company gained control of Bengal following the Battle of Plassey in 1757. The bloody rebellion of 1857—known as the Sepoy Mutiny—resulted in transfer of authority to the crown with a British viceroy running the administration. During colonial rule, famine racked South Asia many times, including the war-induced Great Bengal famine of 1943 that claimed 3 million lives(SONY PCG-7111L battery).
The Maratha Empire, a Hindu empire which overran the Mughals in the 18th century, also devastated the territories controlled by the Nawab of Bengal between 1742 and 1751. In a series of raids on Bengal and Bihar, then ruled by the Nawab, Maratha demolished much of the Bengali economy, which was unable to withstand the continuous onslaught of Maratha for long. Nawab Ali Vardi Khan made peace with Maratha by ceding the whole of Orissa and parts of Western Bengal to the empire. In addition(SONY PCG-71511M battery), this a tax – the Chauth, amounting to a quarter of total revenue – was imposed on other parts of Bengal and Bihar. This tax amounted to twenty lakhs (of rupees?) for Bengal and 12 lakhs for Bihar per year. After Maratha's defeat in Panipat by a coalition of Muslim forces, the empire returned under the Maratha general Madhoji Sindhia and raided Bengal again. The British Empire stopped payment of the Chauth, invading the territory of Bengal in 1760s(SONY PCG-6W3L battery). The raids continued until Maratha was finally defeated by the British over the course of three Anglo-Maratha Wars, lasting from 1777 to 1818.
Rabindranath Tagore and Kazi Nazrul Islam, icons of Renaissance Bengal (late 19th-early 20th century)
Dhaka University students during the Bengali Language Movement.
Between 1905 and 1911, an abortive attempt was made to divide the province of Bengal into two zones, with Dhaka being the capital of the eastern zone. When the exit of the British Empire in 1947, Bengal was partitioned along religious lines(SONY PCG-7113L battery), with the western part going to newly created India and the eastern part (Muslim majority) joining Pakistan as a province called East Bengal (later renamed East Pakistan), with its capital at Dhaka. In 1950, land reform was accomplished in East Bengal with the abolishment of the feudal zamindari system. Despite the economic and demographic weight of the east, however, Pakistan's government and military were largely dominated by the upper classes from the west(SONY PCG-7133L battery). The Bengali Language Movement of 1952 was the first sign of friction between the two wings of Pakistan. Dissatisfaction with the central government over economic and cultural issues continued to rise through the next decade, during which the Awami League emerged as the political voice of the Bengali-speaking population. It agitated for autonomy in the 1960s, and in 1966, its president, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman (Mujib), (SONY PCG-7Z1L battery) was jailed; he was released in 1969 after an unprecedented popular uprising. In 1970, a massive cyclone devastated the coast of East Pakistan, killing up to half a million people, and the central government responded poorly. The Bengali population's anger was compounded when Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, whose Awami League won a majority in Parliament in the 1970 elections, was blocked from taking office(SONY PCG-7Z2L battery).
Independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
After staging compromise talks with Mujib, President Yahya Khan and military officials launched Operation Searchlight, a sustained military assault on East Pakistan and arrested him in the early hours of 26 March 1971. Yahya's methods were extremely bloody, and the violence of the war resulted in many civilian deaths. Chief targets included intellectuals and Hindus, and about one million refugees fled to neighbouring India(SONY PCG-8Y1L battery). Estimates of those massacred throughout the war range from thirty thousand to 3,000,000. Mujibur Rahman was ultimately released on 8 January 1972, due to direct US intervention.
Awami League leaders set up a government-in-exile in Calcutta, India. The exile government formally took oath at Meherpur, in Kustia district of East Pakistan on 17 April 1971, with Tajuddin Ahmad as the first Prime Minister and Syed Nazrul Islam as the Acting President. The Bangladesh Liberation War lasted for nine months(SONY PCG-8Y2L battery). The Bangladesh Forces formed within 11 sectors led by General M.A.G. Osmani consisting of Bengali Regular forces conducted a massive guerilla war against the Pakistan Forces with support from the Mukti Bahinis consisting of Kaderia Bahni, Hemayet Bahini, and others financed and equipped by Indian Armed Forces Maj. Gen. Sujat Singh Uban. The Indian Army, assisted by Bangladeshi forces, negotiated a cease-fire and surrounded the Dhaka Area. The Indian Army remained in Bangladesh until 19 March 1972(SONY PCG-8Z2L battery).
After its independence, Bangladesh was governed by an Awami League government, with Mujib as the Prime Minister, without holding any elections. In the 1973 parliamentary elections, the Awami League gained an absolute majority. A nationwide famine occurred during 1973 and 1974, and in early 1975, Mujib initiated a one-party socialist rule with his newly formed BAKSAL. On 15 August 1975(SONY PCG-8Z1L battery), Mujib and most of his family members were assassinated by mid-level military officers. Vice President Khandaker Mushtaq Ahmed was sworn in as President with most of Mujib's cabinet intact. Two Army uprisings on 3 November and the other on 7 November 1975 led to the reorganised structure of power. Emergency was declared to restore order and calm, Mushtaq resigned and the country was placed under temporary martial law(SONY PCG-7112L battery), with three service chiefs serving as deputies to the new president Justice Abu Satem, who also became the Chief Martial Law Administrator. Lieutenant General Ziaur Rahman, took over the presidency in 1977 as Justice Sayem resigned. President Zia reinstated multi-party politics, introduced free markets, and founded the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). Zia's rule ended when he was assassinated by elements of the military in 1981. (SONY PCG-6W2L battery)
Nobel Laureate Muhammad Yunus.
Bangladesh's next major ruler was Lieutenant General Hossain Mohammad Ershad, who gained power in a coup on 24 March 1982, and ruled until 6 December 1990, when he was forced to resign after a revolt of all major political parties and the public, along with pressure from Western donors (which was a major shift in international policy after the fall of the Soviet Union) (SONY PCG-5K1L battery). Since then, Bangladesh has reverted to a parliamentary democracy. Zia's widow, Khaleda Zia, led the Bangladesh Nationalist Party to parliamentary victory at the general election in 1991, and became the first female Prime Minister in Bangladeshi history. However, the Awami League, headed by Sheikh Hasina, one of Mujib's surviving daughters, won the next election in 1996. It lost again to the Bangladesh Nationalist Party in 2001(SONY VGP-BPS8 battery).
On 11 January 2007, following widespread political unrest spearheaded by the Awami League, the Bangladesh civil and military establishment supported the establishment of a neutral caretaker government. The caretaker government was appointed to administer the next general election. The country had suffered from extensive corruption, disorder and political violence(SONY VGP-BPL8 battery). The caretaker government made it a priority to root out corruption from all levels of government. To this end, many notable politicians and officials, along with large numbers of lesser officials and party members, were arrested on corruption charges. The caretaker government held what it itself described as a largely free and fair election on 29 December 2008. The Awami League's Sheikh Hasina won with a landslide in the elections and took the oath of Prime Minister on 6 January 2009. (SONY VGP-BPS9 battery)
Bangladesh lies between latitudes 20° and 27°N, and longitudes 88° and 93°E.
Bangladesh is in the low-lying Ganges Delta. This delta is formed by the confluence of the Ganges (local name Padma or Pôdda), Brahmaputra (Jamuna or Jomuna also known as "Yamuna"), and Meghna rivers and their respective tributaries. The Ganges unites with the Jamuna (main channel of the Brahmaputra) and later joins the Meghna to eventually empty into the Bay of Bengal(SONY VGP-BPS9/S battery). The alluvial soil deposited by these rivers has created some of the most fertile plains in the world. Bangladesh has 57 trans-boundary rivers, making water issues politically complicated to resolve – in most cases as the lower riparian state to India.
Most parts of Bangladesh are less than 12 m (39.4 ft) above the sea level, and it is believed that about 10% of the land would be flooded if the sea level were to rise by 1 m (3.28 ft) (SONY VGP-BPS9A battery).
In southeast Bangladesh, experiments have been done since the 1960s to 'build with nature'. By implementing cross dams, the natural accretion of silt has created new land. With Dutch funding, the Bangladeshi government began to help develop this new land in the late 1970s. The effort has since become a multiagency operation building roads(SONY VGP-BPS9A/B battery), culverts, embankments, cyclone shelters, toilets and ponds, as well as distributing land to settlers. By fall 2010, the program will have allotted some 27,000 acres (10,927 ha) to 21,000 families.
The highest point in Bangladesh is in Mowdok range at 1,052 m (3,451 ft) in the Chittagong Hill Tracts to the southeast of the country. Cox's Bazar, south of the city of Chittagong, has a beach that stretches uninterrupted over 120 km (75 mi) (SONY VGP-BPS9/B battery).
Satellite image presenting physical features of Bangladesh
Straddling the Tropic of Cancer, Bangladeshi climate is tropical with a mild winter from October to March, and a hot, humid summer from March to June. Interestingly, the country has never frozen at any point on the ground, with a record low of 4.5°C in the south west city of Jessore in the winter of 2011. A warm and humid monsoon season lasts from June to October and supplies most of the country's rainfall(SONY VGP-BPS9A/S battery). Natural calamities, such as floods, tropical cyclones, tornadoes, and tidal bores occur almost every year, combined with the effects of deforestation, soil degradation and erosion. The cyclones of 1970 and 1991 were particularly devastating. A cyclone that struck Bangladesh in 1991 killed some 140,000 people. (SONY VGP-BPL9 battery)
In September 1998, Bangladesh saw the most severe flooding in modern world history. As the Brahmaputra, the Ganges and Meghna spilt over and swallowed 300,000 houses, 9,700 km (6,000 mi) of road and 2,700 km (1,700 mi) of embankment, 1,000 people were killed and 30 million more were made homeless, with 135,000 cattle killed, 50 km2 (19 sq mi) of land destroyed and 11,000 km (6,800 mi) of roads damaged or destroyed(SONY VGP-BPS10 battery). Two-thirds of the country was underwater. There were several reasons for the severity of the flooding. Firstly, there were unusually high monsoon rains. Secondly, the Himalayas shed off an equally unusually high amount of melt water that year. Thirdly, trees that usually would have intercepted rain water had been cut down for firewood or to make space for animals. (SONY VGP-BPL10 battery)
Bangladesh is now widely recognised to be one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Natural hazards that come from increased rainfall, rising sea levels, and tropical cyclones are expected to increase as climate changes, each seriously affecting agriculture, water and food security, human health and shelter. It is believed that in the coming decades the rising sea level alone will create more than 20 million climate refugees. (SONY VGP-BPS11 battery) Bangladeshi water is contaminated with arsenic frequently because of the high arsenic contents in the soil. Up to 77 million people are exposed to toxic arsenic from drinking water. Bangladesh is among the countries most prone to natural floods, tornados and cyclones. Also, there is evidence that earthquakes pose a threat to the country. Evidence shows that tectonics have caused rivers to shift course suddenly and dramatically(SONY VGP-BPL11 battery). It has been shown that rainy-season flooding in Bangladesh, on the world’s largest river delta, can push the underlying crust down by as much as 6 centimetres, and possibly perturb faults.
Royal Bengal Tiger is the national animal of Bangladesh
A major part of the coastline is marshy jungle, the Sundarbans, the largest mangrove forest in the world and home to diverse flora and fauna, including the Royal Bengal Tiger. In 1997, this region was declared endangered. (SONY VGP-BPL12 battery) The Magpie Robin is the National Bird of Bangladesh and it is common and known as the Doyel or Doel (Bengali: দোয়েল). It is a widely used symbol in Bangladesh, appearing on currency notes and a landmark in the city of Dhaka is named as the Doyel Chatwar (meaning: Doyel Square). The national flower of the country is water lily, which is known as Shapla. The national fruit is jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), which in Bengali is known as Kathal. In late 2010, the Bangladeshi government selected the Mango tree as the national tree. (SONY VGP-BPS12 battery)
Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban houses the Parliament of Bangladesh and is one of the largest legislative complexes in the world.
Bangladesh is a unitary state and parliamentary democracy. Direct elections in which all citizens, aged 18 or over, can vote are held every five years for the unicameral parliament known as Jatiya Sangsad. The parliamentary building is known as the Jatiyo Sangshad Bhaban and was designed by architect Louis Kahn(SONY VGP-BPS13 battery). Currently the parliament has 350 members including 50 reserved seats for women, elected from single-member constituencies. The Prime Minister, as the head of government, forms the cabinet and runs the day-to-day affairs of state. While the Prime Minister is formally appointed by the President, he or she must be a Member of Parliament who commands the confidence of the majority of parliament. The President is the Head of State but mainly a ceremonial post elected by the parliament. (SONY VGP-BPS13Q battery)
However the President's powers are substantially expanded during the tenure of a caretaker government, which is responsible for the conduct of elections and transfer of power. The officers of the caretaker government must be non-partisan and are given three months to complete their task. This transitional arrangement is an innovation that was pioneered by Bangladesh in its 1991 election and then institutionalised in 1996 through its 13th constitutional amendment. (SONY VGP-BPS13A/Q battery)
Major parties in Bangladesh are the Bangladesh Awami League, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami (BJI). BNP is led by Khaleda Zia and has politically been allied with Islamist parties like Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami but practice secular politics. Sheikh Hasina's Awami League aligns with more leftist parties. Hasina and Zia are bitter rivals who have dominated politics for over 15 years(SONY VGP-BPS13B/Q battery); each is related to one of the leaders of the independence movement. Another important player is the Jatiya Party, headed by former military dictator Ershad. The Awami League-BNP rivalry has been bitter and punctuated by protests, violence and murder. Student politics is particularly strong in Bangladesh, a legacy from the liberation movement era. Almost all parties have highly active student wings, and student leaders have been elected to the Parliament(SONY VGP-BPS13/B battery).
On 11 January 2007, following widespread political unrest, a caretaker government was appointed to administer the next general election. The 22 January 2007 election was postponed indefinitely and emergency law declared on 11 January 2007 as the Army backed caretaker government of Fakhruddin Ahmed aimed to prepare a new voter list and crack down on corruption(SONY VGP-BPS13B/B battery). They also assisted the interim Government of Bangladesh in a drive against corruption, which resulted in Bangladesh's position in Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index changed from the very bottom, where they had been for 3 years in a row, to 147th in just 1 year. A large alliance led by the Bangladesh Awami League won 29 December 2008 poll, in a landslide victory. They got 230 seats among 300 seats in the parliament. (SONY VGP-BPS13A/S battery)
Further information: Divisions of Bangladesh, Districts of Bangladesh, and Upazilas of Bangladesh
Bangladesh is divided into seven administrative divisions, each named after their respective divisional headquarters: Barisal, Chittagong, Dhaka, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet and Rangpur.
Divisions are subdivided into districts (zila). There are 66 districts in Bangladesh, each further subdivided into upazila (subdistricts) or thana(SONY VGP-BPS21A/B battery). The area within each police station, except for those in metropolitan areas, is divided into several unions, with each union consisting of multiple villages. In the metropolitan areas, police stations are divided into wards, which are further divided into mahallas. There are no elected officials at the divisional or district levels, and the administration is composed only of government officials. Direct elections are held for each union (or ward), electing a chairperson and a number of members. In 1997, a parliamentary act was passed to reserve three seats (out of 12) in every union for female candidates. (SONY VGP-BPS21B battery)
Dhaka is the capital and largest city of Bangladesh. The cities with City Corporation are: Dhaka South, Dhaka North, Chittagong, Khulna, Rajshahi, Sylhet, Barisal, Rangpur, Comilla and Gazipur. These cities have mayoral elections. Other major cities include Mymensingh, Gopalganj, Jessore, Bogra, Dinajpur, Saidapur, Narayanganj and Rangamati. These cities and other municipalities elect a chairperson. Mayors and chairpersons are elected for a span of five years(SONY VGP-BPS21 battery).
The legal system of Bangladesh is primarily in accordance with the English legal system although since 1947, the legal scenario and the laws of Bangladesh have drifted far from the West owing to differences in socio-cultural values and religious guidelines. In November 2007, Bangladesh successfully separated the Judiciary from the Executive but several black laws, including the Special Powers Act, still influence the rulers(SONY VGP-BPS21/S battery).
The Constitution of Bangladesh was drafted in 1972 and has undergone 15 amendments. The highest judicial body is the Supreme Court. Justices are appointed by the President. The judicial and law enforcement institutions are weak. Separation of powers, judicial from executive was finally implemented on 1 November 2007. It is expected that this separation will make the judiciary stronger and impartial(SONY VGP-BPS13S battery). Laws are loosely based on English common law, but family laws such as marriage and inheritance are based on religious scripts, and therefore differ between religious communities.
Foreign Minister of Bangladesh Dipu Moni and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the State Department in 2011.
Bangladesh pursues a moderate foreign policy that places heavy reliance on multinational diplomacy, especially at the United Nations. In 1974, Bangladesh joined both the Commonwealth of Nations and the United Nations(SONY VGP-BPS13B/S battery), and has since been elected to serve two terms on the Security Council – in 1978–1979 and 2000–2001. In the 1980s, Bangladesh played a lead role in founding the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) in order expand relations other South Asian states. In more recent years, Bangladeshi foreign policy has focused on promoting regional economic integration in South Asia, as well as the wider neighborhood(SONY VGP-BPS13B/G battery).
Bangladesh's most important and complex foreign relationship is with India. This relationship is formed by historical and cultural ties and is strengthened because of India's involvement in liberating the people of Bangladesh from Pakistan. This forms an important part of the domestic political discourse. Bangladesh's relationship with India began on a positive note because of India's assistance in the independence war and subsequent reconstruction(SONY VGP-BPS14 battery). Throughout the years, the relationship between the two countries has fluctuated for a number of reasons. A major source of tension between Bangladesh and India is the Farakka Dam. In 1975, India constructed a dam on the Ganges River 10.3 mi (16.6 km) from the Bangladeshi border. Bangladesh alleges that the dam diverts much needed water from Bangladesh and adds a man-made disaster to a country already plagued by natural disasters(SONY VGP-BPL14 battery).
Members of the Bangladesh Armed Forces during the annual Victory Day parade in Dhaka.
However, both countries recognize the importance of good relations, regional security and South Asian economic integration. In 2009, Bangladeshi security forces launched a crackdown on Indian insurgents hiding in the country's border regions, captured and deported the leaders of several insurgent groups. Bangladesh and India have also agreed to develop regional connectivity and economic integration(SONY VGP-BPS14/B battery), along with Nepal and Bhutan. India's eastern states, as well as Nepal and Bhutan, are keen to gain access to Bangladesh's Chittagong and Mongla ports.
Bangladesh enjoys very warm ties with the People's Republic of China, and particularly in the past decade, there has been increased economic cooperation between them. Between 2006 and 2007, trade between the two nations rose by 28.5% and there have been agreements to grant various Bangladeshi commodities tariff-free access to the Chinese market(SONY VGP-BPS14/S battery). Cooperation between the Military of Bangladesh and the People's Liberation Army is also increasing, with joint military agreements signed and Bangladesh purchasing Chinese arms which range from small arms to large naval surface combat ships such as the Chinese Type 053H1 Missile Frigate.
The United States is a major development partner of Bangladesh, giving over six billion dollars in aid since 1972(SONY VGP-BPS22 battery). American companies are the largest foreign investors in the country, and the US is also the largest market for Bangladeshi exports. Bangladesh participated in the US-led coalition during the 1991 Gulf War to liberate Kuwait, and supports the US-led reconstruction of Afghanistan. The US Military has taken part in several disaster management and relief operations in aftermath of devastating floods and cyclones to have hit Bangladesh, including Cyclone O2B and Cyclone Sidr. (SONY VGP-BPS22 battery)
As of 2012, the current strength of the army is around 300,000 including reservists, the air force 22,000, and navy 19,000. In addition to traditional defence roles, the military has been called on to provide support to civil authorities for disaster relief and internal security during periods of political unrest. Bangladesh is not currently active in any ongoing war, but it contributed 2,300 troops during Operation Desert Storm in 1991(SONY VGP-BPS18 battery), and is the world's largest contributor (10,736) to UN peacekeeping forces. In May 2007, Bangladesh had major deployments in Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sudan, Timor-Leste and Côte d'Ivoire.
Graphical depiction of Bangladesh's product exports in 28 color coded categories. Bangladesh's exports are heavily tilted towards the garment industry
Bangladesh Bank Building at Motijheel, Dhaka. It is the headquarter of country's central bank.
Bangladesh is a developing nation. Goldman Sachs named it one of the "Next Eleven". Bangladesh gradually decreased its dependency on foreign grant and loan from 85% (In 1988) (SONY VGP-BPS22/A battery)to 2% (In 2010) for its annual development budget. Its per capita income in 2010 was US$641 compared to the world average of $8,985. In December 2005, the Central Bank of Bangladesh projected GDP growth around 6.5%.
Bangladesh has seen a dramatic increase in foreign direct investment. In order to enhance economic growth, the government set up several export processing zones to attract foreign investment(SONY VGP-BPS22A battery). These are managed by the Bangladesh Export Processing Zone Authority.
The insufficient power supply constitutes an obstacle to growth. According to the World Bank, "among Bangladesh’s most significant obstacles to growth are poor governance and weak public institutions." In April 2010, Standard & Poor's awarded Bangladesh a BB- for a long term in credit rating which is below India and well over Pakistan and Sri Lanka in South Asia. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11S battery)
One significant contributor to the development of the economy has been the widespread propagation of microcredit by Muhammad Yunus (awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006) through the Grameen Bank. By the late 1990s, Grameen Bank had 2.3 million members, along with 2.5 million members of other similar organisations. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15T battery)
Bangladesh government is planning for construction of the largest deep sea port in South Asia at Sonadia Island. The 500 billion taka project will be completed in multiple phases and enable Bangladesh to service the whole region as a maritime transport and logistics hub. India, China, Bhutan, Nepal and other neighbouring countries will be able to take full advantage of the strategic location and Bangladesh’s LDC status for exporting their goods, which are manufactured in Bangladesh. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ15G battery)
Furthermore, with $7.5 billion a new international airport will be constructed. The airport is being modelled on Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi Airport in size and capacity.
To ease the chaotic traffic congestion in the capital Dhaka the government plans to construct more expressways, freeways, and flyovers. There is a plan to build an overhead Rapid transit called Dhaka Metro, but the progress is slow and controversial because of contracts and agreements(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ4000 battery).
Recently the government of Bangladesh signed a deal with a Chinese company to provide high-speed modern DEMU trains and is also going to construct metro rail system and high-speed electric powered inter city rail network. More airports, bridge (such as the multi-billion Padma Bridge project) national highways are also being constructed to facilitate trade and regional development. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ460E battery)
Dheki (Husking Pedal) was very common in the houses of villages in Bangladesh
According to FAOSTAT, Bangladesh is one of world's largest producers of: rice (4th), potato (11th), mango (9th), pineapple (16th), tropical Fruit (5th), onion (16th), banana (17th), jute (2nd), tea (11th).
Jute was once the economic engine of the country. Its share of the world export market peaked in the Second World War and the late 1940s at 80% and even in the early 1970s accounted for 70% of its export earnings(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11L battery). However, polypropylene products began to substitute for jute products worldwide and the jute industry started to decline. Bangladesh grows very significant quantities of rice, tea, potato, mango, onion and mustard.
More than three-quarters of Bangladesh’s export earnings come from the garment industry in 2005. The industry began attracting foreign investors in the 1980s due to cheap labour and low conversion cost(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11Z battery). In 2011–12 fiscal year the industry exported US$ 18 billion worth of products where in 2002 the exported amount was US$ 5 billion. Bangladesh has been ranked as the 4th largest clothing exporter by the WTO (The World Trade Organization) . whereas, according to The Economist Bangladesh is the world’s third-largest clothes-export industry. The industry now employs more than 3 million workers, 90% of whom are women. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ11M battery)
There has also been a significant growth to Bangladesh's ship building industry in the last few years. The required ships and vessels in the country are being produced by the local shipbuilders. Furthermore, they have already started taking orders and executing them perfectly for foreign companies from Germany, Denmark and othe European countries who prefer the cheap market of Bangladesh over their local market(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18M battery). The Khulna Shipyard have successfully completed building a Khulna Class LPC(Large Patrol Craft) and a LCVP(Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) for the Bangladesh Navy and Bangladesh Army respectively, the cost being almost half of their import price. They are to build 5 more LPCs of the same class in the coming year(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ18 battery).
Tourism sector in Bangladesh has experienced massive growth in recent years. Majority of growth is contributed by local tourists. It is believed to be a major tourist destination if properly advertised. Nonetheless, few government and private initiatives have been taken to attract foreign tourists(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ210CE battery).
Though small in area, Bangladesh is quite rich in heritage with numerous historical and archeological sites. It has the longest natural unbroken sea beach and five World Heritage Sites. Among those are famous eighty one domed Shat Gombuj Mosque in Bagerhat, made by great Muslim saint Khan Jahan Ali in the 15th century; world's largest Mangrove forest Sundarbans which is also renowned for its world famous Royal Bengal Tiger(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31S battery).
There are several exotic archaeological sites in the northern parts of Bangladesh, including the temple city Puthia in Rajshahi; the largest and most ancient archaeological site, Mahasthangarh in Bogra; Among the best known Buddhist viharas in the Indian Subcontinent and one of the most important archaeological sites in the country, Paharpur in Naogaon, declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985; Kantaji Temple(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31Z battery), the most ornamental terracota Hindu temple in Bangladesh and many rajbaris or palaces of old zamindars. There are historic mosques too with vast architectural beauty like Shona Mosque built in 1493, Bagha Mosque, in 1523, Sixty Dome Mosque and etc.
Bangladesh has the largest shopping mall in South Asia, which is 13th largest in the world. It is Bashundhara City Shopping Mall which is situated at Karwan Bazar, Dhaka(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31E battery)
The population of Bangladesh as of 15 March 2011 is 142.3 million (census 2011 results; this is a preliminary figure which has been disputed by the UN and now by Bangladeshis themselves), much less than recent (2007–2010) estimates of Bangladesh's population ranging from 158 to 170 million and it is the 8th most populous nation in the world. In 1951, the population was 44 million. It is also the most densely populated large country in the world(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31J battery), and it ranks 11th in population density, when very small countries and city-states are included.
Bangladesh's population growth rate was among the highest in the world in the 1960s and 1970s, when the country swelled from 65 to 110 million. With the promotion of birth control in the 1980s, the growth rate began to slow. The population is relatively young, with 60% aged 25 or younger and 3% 63 or older. Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 70 years for both males and females in 2012. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31M battery)
The overwhelming majority of Bangladeshis are ethnic Bengali, constituting 98% of the population. The remainder are mostly Biharis and indigenous tribal groups. There is also a small but growing population of Rohingya refugees from Burma around Cox's Bazaar, which Bangladesh seeks to repatriate to Burma. The tribal peoples are concentrated in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in the southeast(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ31B battery). There are 45 tribal groups located in this region, the largest being the Chakma. The Hill Tracts region has been a source of unrest and separatism since and before the inception of Bangladesh. Outside the Hill Tracts, the largest tribal groups are the Santhals and Garos (Achiks), while smaller groups include the Kaibartta, Meitei, Mundas, Oraons, and Zomi.
More than 98% of Bangladeshis speak Bengali as their mother tongue as it is the official language. It is an Indo-Aryan language of Sanskrit origin with its own script. English is used as a second language among the middle and upper classes. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ32 battery) English is also widely used in higher education and the legal system. Historically, laws were written in English and were not translated into Bengali until 1987 when the procedure was reversed. Some Dhakaiyas (Locales of Dhaka) & the Bihari population speaks Urdu, which was also the language associated with the government prior to separation from Pakistan.
After Bangladesh gained independence(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ410 battery), Secularism was included in the original Constitution of Bangladesh in 1972 as one of the Four State Principles, the others being Democracy, Nationalism and Socialism. In 1977, the word "Secularity" was replaced with "Absolutue trust and faith in the Almighty Allah shall be the basis of all actions" by the government of President Ziaur Rahman. However in 2010 the High Court upheld the secular principles of the 1972 constitution. (Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21 battery) The government of Bangladesh again made Islam the state religion in 2011. However, Bangladesh follows combined system of state laws and individual religious laws applicable to people of respective religious group. The main religion in Bangladesh is Islam (90.3%), but a significant percentage of the population adheres to Hinduism (8.7%). The majority of Muslims are Sunni, although a small number are Twelver Shias or Shias. Bangladesh is the second largest Muslim populated state after Indonesia with over 150 million(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21S battery).
Many people in Bangladesh practice Sufism, as historically Islam was brought to the region by Sufi saints. Sufi influences in the region go back many centuries. The largest gathering of Muslims in the country is the Bishwa Ijtema, held annually by the Tablighi Jamaat. The Ijtema is the second largest Muslim congregation in the world after the Hajj. Other religious groups include Buddhists (0.7%, mostly Theravada), Christians (0.3%, mostly of the Roman Catholic denomination), and Animists (0.1%).(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ21M battery)
Bangladesh has a low literacy rate, estimated at 61.3% for males and 52.2% for females in 2010. The educational system in Bangladesh is three-tiered and highly subsidised. The government of Bangladesh operates many schools in the primary, secondary, and higher secondary levels. It also subsidises parts of the funding for many private schools. In the tertiary education sector, the government also funds more than 15 state universities through the University Grants Commission(Sony VAIO VGN-FZ38M battery).
Primary (from grades 1 to 5), Junior Secondary (from grades 6 to 8), Secondary (from grades 9 to 10), Higher Secondary (from grades 11 to 12) and tertiary. The five years of lower secondary education concludes with a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination but since 2009 it concludes with a Primary Education Closing (PEC) Examination. Also earlier Students who pass this examination proceed to four years Secondary or matriculation training(Sony VGN-NR11S/S Battery), which culminate in a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination but since 2010 the Primary Education Closing (PEC) passed examinees proceed to three years Junior Secondary, which culminate in a Junior School Certificate (JSC) Examination. Then students who pass this examination proceed to two years Secondary or matriculation training, which culminate in a Secondary School Certificate (SSC) Examination(Sony VGN-NR11M/S Battery). Students who pass this examination proceed to two years of Higher Secondary or intermediate training, which culminate in a Higher Secondary School Certificate (HSC) Examination. Education is mainly offered in Bengali, but English is also commonly taught and used. A large number of Muslim families send their children to attend part-time courses or even to pursue full-time religious education, which is imparted in Bengali and Arabic in madrasahs. (Sony VGN-NR260E/S Battery)
Bangladesh conforms fully to the Education For All (EFA) objectives, the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and international declarations. Article 17 of the Bangladesh Constitution provides that all children between the ages of six and ten years receive a basic education free of charge.
Universities in Bangladesh are mainly categorised into three different types: public university (government owned and subsidised), private University (private sector owned universities) (Sony VGN-NR260E/T Battery), and international University (operated and funded by international organisations). Bangladesh has some thirty-four public and sixty-four private universities. National University has the largest enrolment amongst them and University of Dhaka (established 1921) is the oldest university of the country. Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) is the oldest and prominent engineering university in Bangladesh(Sony VGN-NR11Z/S Battery). Shahjalal University of Science and Technology (SUST) is the first specialized Science & Technology university of the country. Some other Universities are also well known such as Rajshahi University, Chittagong University, Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University etc. Bangladeshi universities are accredited by and affiliated with the University Grants Commission (UGC), a commission created according to the Presidential Order (P.O. No 10 of 1973) of the Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. (Sony VGN-NR11Z/T Battery)